The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has today published its latest annual Regulatory Decision-making Report. This is the third Regulatory Decision-Making report that the BSB has published since it reformed the way regulatory decisions are taken in October 2019. It covers the period from April 2021 to March 2022.
The impact of COVID-19 on the effective operation of the BSB’s regulatory activities lessened in the reported period, and both the productivity and quality of decision making has remained high. But the BSB continued to see increases in the number and complexity of reports about barristers’ conduct and in the resulting investigations and increases also in applications for waivers and exemptions from practising requirements. This has impacted upon the regulator’s ability to meet service standards for the timeliness of decisions. The BSB has increased its resources to ensure that it can again meet its key service standards as soon as possible and is developing a more balanced set of performance metrics for the future that will both hold the BSB to account for all aspects of its decision making and provide a clearer and more accurate picture on overall performance externally.
The key statistical findings of the report are as follows:
- 2,517 reports about the conduct of barristers were dealt with, a 54% increase on 2020-21
- Cases involving social media rose from 49 (involving 27 barristers) in 2020-21 to 89 (involving 36 barristers)
- 164 referrals were accepted for investigation and 106 investigations were decided compared to 128 and 91 such cases in 2020-21
- 119 reports were referred for consideration by the BSB’s Supervision team an increase of 35% and a further 90 cases were received directly by the team compared to 27 in 2020-21.
- The number of barristers disbarred in 2021-2022 increased slightly to six, compared to four in 2020-21, ten in 2019-20, and four in 2018-19.
- Seven barristers were suspended in 2021-22, compared to nine in 2020-2021, fifteen in 2019-20, and four in 2018-19.
- During 2021-22 the BSB dealt with a total of 1,211 applications for authorisations, exemptions and waivers – 6% more than in 2020-21;
- 131 decisions in the reporting period were reviewed and in 7 cases the Independent Reviewer made recommendations for further action, or a reconsideration of the decision reached, and/or concluded that although the right outcome had been reached, other factors should have been taken into account.
The performance of the BSB’s regulatory operations will continue to be a priority and during 2022/23 the BSB will also be carrying out a review of its decision-making processes to ensure that they remain efficient and robust. The report also highlights examples where the BSB has taken active steps to identify potential risks to high standards of practice and to address them through targeted and proportionate interventions.
The full Regulatory Decision-making Report 2021-22 is available on the BSB website. A statistical report for the same period is also available on the BSB website. The Independent Decision-making Body, which takes regulatory decisions on behalf of the BSB that require independent input, has also published its annual report today. You can read about that report here.
Notes to editors
About the Bar Standards Board
Our mission is to regulate barristers and specialised legal services businesses in England and Wales in the public interest. For more information about what we do visit: http://bit.ly/1gwui8t
About the IDB
The Independent Decision-making Body (IDB) makes decisions about cases passed to the Investigations and Enforcement Department for investigation that may require disciplinary action and determines appeals against authorisation decisions.
About the Regulatory Decision-Making Report
The Regulatory Decision-Making Report provides an overview of decisions taken by the BSB in relation to its regulatory operations, and enforcement work in the year to 31 March 2022.
Reforms to the BSB’s approach to regulatory decision-making in October 2019 saw the introduction of revised Key Performance Indicators for the handling of reports to reflect the new regulatory operations systems.
Contact: For all media enquiries call: 07432 713 328 or email [email protected].